Media Monday: Hurricane Harvey and how your family or school can help

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Our area is experiencing such an unprecedented disaster that it’s hard to know what to say or do first. Our focus here is always kids and education, so we decided to use this Media Monday post to boost organizations working to help children and families in the Gulf and Central Texas region.

Please let us know through Facebook or Twitter (@AltEdAustin) if you are a school or group of students volunteering, raising money, or doing other Hurricane Harvey relief projects, and we will try to get the word out.

Donations

We strongly endorse sending money donations to the groups on the ground who are supporting first responders and local shelters, including, but not limited to, the City of Houston’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, All Hands Volunteers, and The Red Cross of Central and South Texas. A long list of voluntary organizations in Texas that are active in disaster relief is available here.

 A two-week-old infant safe in a shelter where Circle of Health International is providing vital services

A two-week-old infant safe in a shelter where Circle of Health International is providing vital services

Of special note is Circle of Health International (COHI), which provides medical assistance and other services to women, babies, and other highly vulnerable populations in places of climate disaster and armed conflict throughout the world. We know the organization personally as it is headquartered down the hall from Alt Ed Austin’s office at Soma Vida Work Life Balance Center (which is doing its part by offering free work space this week for those in need during the Hurricane Harvey crisis). We can’t say enough good things about COHI’s heroic work and effectiveness.

Another initiative near and dear to our hearts here at Alt Ed Austin is KoSchool’s student-organized donation drive inspired by Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s call to “do our chores” and create Welcome Kits for Hurricane Harvey evacuees. In partnership with Attendance Records, Capital Factory, Lee Ann LaBorde State Farm Insurance, and Alt Ed Austin, KoSchool students are accepting donations that they will assemble into Welcome Kits. If you’d like to participate, please see the image below and get more details on the Facebook event page.


All area food banks are accepting contributions, including the Central Texas Food Bank (Austin and surrounding areas),  Houston Food Bank, the Galveston County Food Bank, and the Corpus Christi Food Bank. They all take online donations.

So many families are in dire circumstances now, with only the bare minimum of clothing, medicine, diapers, and other essentials, that we especially want to highlight groups that are focusing on children. Many groups will need help over the long term to support people who have lost nearly all their material possessions and will take months or years to rebuild and make themselves whole again.

Volunteers

Many churches and nonprofit groups in Austin are looking for volunteers, and we know that plenty of students and people in the Alt Ed community are eager to help.  A general clearinghouse for volunteers to assist in projects related to Hurricane Harvey is available at the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster site. Locally, the Austin Disaster Relief Network has a constantly updated list of trainings. And of course, the American Red Cross is seeking volunteers now and always, and will train you in disaster relief protocols.

Finally, we understand that many hospitals and trauma centers are experiencing blood shortages, so consider heading to a local blood donation center this week.


Shelley Sperry and Teri Sperry